Tag Archives: Christian traditions

Having to learn and benefit from other Christian denominations


We must all learn and benefit from other Christian denominations,
traditions, and styles of worship
and should not just admire or idolise one particular one in isolation.
If we don’t learn from other traditions, we come insular and narrow.

Charismatic churches dominate on university campuses,
leaving little room for non-charismatics and promoting a narrow, limited, distorted, disproportionate, and false image of Christianity and of what it actually means to be a Christian, especially what it means to be one at university.

~ ‘Come, just as you are to worship’

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Spring playing hide and seek

Bold Jumping SpiderPhotographer Mike Powell knows that spring has truly arrived when he starts to walk around with a macro lens on his camera. You may find some nice shots of a Bold Jumping Spider (Phidippus audax) on the boardwalk the 4th of April at Huntley Meadows Park in his article Jumping spider in early April.

Northern ShovelerWith new vegetation springing up near the edges of the ponds at Huntley Meadows Park, some of the ducks are now hanging out within range of his camera rather than in the middle of the pond. This past weekend he was able to capture the unusual beauty of this male Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata). (See: Unusual beauty)

In Belgium the temperatures are still low for the time of year and the sun does not seem to be able to get through the clouds. Hyacinths may stand droopy, but the hortensia (or hydrangea) coloured green in just three days, as soon as we got, at last, some higher temperature. For some kids and adults again a time to play ducks and drakes (throwing flat stones so that they skim along the surface of water)

Belted Kingfisher

Female Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) at Mike Powell’s favourite marshland park.

At moments we can see the Great Blue Herons hover over the bare fields, him not having to fear that a Belted Kingfisher would catch our attention, him sitting on a throne of a piece of wood, overlooking everything as a king. (See: Old faithful & Look both ways)

After the terrorist attacks the people living in Belgium are not at all afraid to get some fresh air and to go places. They find lesser tourists on their track. Many of those who had planned their vacation cancelled the trip to France and Belgium, but those who were already underway enjoy the less busy squares and enjoy very much their stay in this small country.

Every season heralds the might and mystery of superior designs emergent on earth and it is up to people to see the beauty of it all or to adapt to them as needed, respecting their place in the botanical, animal and mineral kingdoms, and our place in theirs.

For lovers of God once more every season is a whirlwind of proofs of the Hand behind this wonderful world. By all the changes taking place around us we can see how wonderfully made this nature world is and how it is impossible for man to create himself such a marvellous world.

In certain countries ‘Spring Break’ and ‘Holy Week’ coincided. In Belgium people do have their Easter holiday. Being a so called Catholic country there was the time to reflect with ‘Holy Week’, but where most went to look for sun and warmthin an other country or went on to the traditional Belgian coast Easter holiday.

Having had the pagan Easter Sunday with kids looking for eggs, others went to have a walk in parks.

Sue, a Presbyterian who lives in Missouri, the California girl Lori, living in Kansas and Ruth, living in New Jersey, having no particular religious affiliation, also look at Spring and write

In this part of Missouri, spring is making an appearance.  The land is still a little grim looking, all grey and brown, but there are also signs of growth, signs of hope. {Easter: Making Time for God}

SueBE recognises that it is easier when she is alone and when she has some time to both wander and wonder. she writes

I know, I know. It means I missed time that could have been spent in group worship.  And we missed a dinner.  But I also got to connect with God and having done that I can say it was truly worth it. His message?

Breathe. Just take a moment, stand still, and breathe.

It isn’t a message I would have received in worship or with family but it was definitely a message that I needed to hear.

We can spend time in group worship, but than we also should wonder if we are worshipping the right God and not a human concoction of a three-headed god. Though we do know that also in such groups or churches people can connect with God. there they should come to listen to Him and should follow His Wishes. Often for many living in this materialistic world that is very difficult. Most people prefer to keep to the human traditions, like Easter and Easter bunnies, Christmas and Christmas trees, instead of keeping to the by god given holidays like 14 Nisan or Pesach.

Belgian traditions are full of pagan rituals. All our culture is interwoven with Celtic and Germanic traditions, people having those gods interposed on their Catholic gods and religious figures.

Those looking for God shall have the difficulty to step aside and to leave those human traditions for what they are and abandoning those human teachings which have made integral part of the West European culture for centuries. Not only the Roman Catholic Church made use of those old customs. For man it is not always easy to finish such habits or to come to see that those are not laudable customs but are abominations in the eyes of God.

As Spring is a time of refreshment it is also an ideal time to start a fresh. It is a time to begin a new life, like nature also brings new life in view.

A God called Love, full of Grace and Mercy, tenderly loving us, is looking at this world and hoping His children will come back to Him. He is calling the, every moment of the day and night.

Now the darker days diminish we should come to see more of the beauties God has given this world and should take time to renew our sense of purpose by building the house of our life on the foundation of God’s Word.  {Life with a Purpose}

There are so many things that can affect the flow of God’s word and presence into our lives. Like deep sea divers, we must continually remind ourselves that nothing—nothing—is as important as that life-giving flow. {Pray as if Your Life Depends on It!}

writes Mitch Teemley in one of his ‘Stories with a Message.’

the Belted Kingfisher is a large, conspicuous ...

the Belted Kingfisher is a large, conspicuous and noisy kingfisher, the only member of that group commonly found in the northern United States and Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But to have God being able to work at you, you shall have to open up yourself and be willing to listen to His Words. We ourselves have to decide if we shall stay connected with this world, being of this world, or wanting to belong to God, being of His world.

Lots of name Christians who as a child had some religious activities have become ‘dried up’. Frustrated with the dryness in their spiritual life they do not know which way to turn. Instead of daring to take a step back and to explore again the magic of this world around them, seeing the Creator His acts in it. when they would go up a mountain or do some long walk and give their mind to nature, they will be surprised to hear something and to feel something special in them. That are the moments we can come close to God, and of which we should take use.

Such photographers like Mike Powell, Cindy Dydyer, Cindy Barton Knoke, and sites like Purple Rays are there on the net to bring beauty for beauty and show those things which are so much greater than a human being, and are the ‘given presence’ of the Greatest Designer of all universe.

If you are limited by the limitations or boundaries of your body, the chains in this life, such writers on the net make it possible to go all over the world and see the beauty of this world. When you are bounded to a wheelchair or not able to move far places, do enjoy their pictures and let you be taken away on a magic journey. Let the pain disappear by enjoying the beautiful pictures and please do take time to let your mind hover over thoughts which can bring you closer to That Maker of everything.

Taking His Book of books shall ad wisdom to it all and bring you to see who is who and what you shall have to believe and how you too can look forward to a much better life than this one you might have in this system of things, this time of this world.

Even if we can not be sure about the seasons, you should know that God is not hiding so that He can not be found. He is there … to be found by you.

Find also to read: All about love, not needing disasters

Preceding: Springtime is coming

 

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Additional reading

  1. Dealing with worries in our lives
  2. In a world which knows no peace sharing blessed hope
  3. Are you looking for answers and Are you looking for God
  4. Why we do not keep to a Sabbath or a Sunday or Lord’s Day #3 Days to be kept holy or set apart
  5. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #7 Prayer #5 Listening Ear
  6. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #8 Prayer #6 Communication and manifestation
  7. Cognizance at the doorstep or at the internet socket
  8. Best intimate relation to look for
  9. God’s never-ending stream of much-needed mercies
  10. Easter: Origins in a pagan Christ
  11. Eostre, Easter, White god, chocolate eggs, Easter bunnies and metaphorical resurrection
  12. Exodus 9: Liar Liar
  13. Geert Wilders wants mandatory blackface at Dutch festival
  14. Irminsul, dies natalis solis invicti, birthday of light, Christmas and Saturnalia
  15. Christmas customs – Are They Christian?
  16. Wishing lanterns and Christmas
  17. Christmas trees
  18. Days of nisan – Pesach or Pasach/Pascha
  19. Pesach and a lot of brokenness in the world

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Further related articles:

  1. Fantasia of Spring
  2. Time Out for This Bird
  3. Easter: Making Time for God
  4. Life with a Purpose
  5. Pray as if Your Life Depends on It!

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Solstice, Saturnalia and Christmas-stress

Today lots of people tend to treat things such as Christmas trees and holiday gift giving as if they’ve been with us forever. While these are old traditions, they were once far more localized. In this world of media everywhere, we tend to forget that customs were once far more specific to the area. Lots of people also have lost the connection of those festivals and have transposed it to their group of people, believers or non-believers in Jesus Christ or in God.

From the Saxon days there was Yule for mid-winter and in the regions of West Europe the autumn storm brought many ideas alive to think about gods who controlled everything in nature. The days becoming darker demanded for and still demand for some more light bringing into it. In the old times to honour the gods it was custom to put all sorts of things in the trees as an offering to the gods. On December the 25th it was the day of the goddess of light. Time was taken to celebrate her.

Traditional Christmas card with holly and mistletoe. Circa 1880s

Druids, Celts, and even the Romans used evergreen branches made into wreaths in winter solstice celebrations. Because so many things lost colour and seemed to have died people looked up for those elements in nature which could be so strong that they stayed green. Pagan symbols as holly and ivy remained green and were taken as a promise of life to return in dead of winter. Holly – prized for its ability to bear fruit in winter and its healing uses – were the blessings people hoped they could have in the house and share with each other. Healing elements were very important to get through Winter.

While the Romans were holding the feast for the god Saturn — which occurred about the time of the winter solstice — they decked the outsides of their houses with holly. At the same time the Christians were quietly celebrating the birth of Christ, and to avoid detection they outwardly followed the custom of their heathen neighbours and decked their houses with holly as well. In this way holly came to be connected with Christmas customs. The plant was also regarded as a symbol of the Resurrection.

The missionaries coming in these regions quickly understood how the pagan traditions were so strong and how people would not like to give them up. This we still see today happening. As Christians should come to know more about traditions and about usages all over the world, plus having the Holy Scriptures to find what they could or could not do, we see that those who call themselves Christian still do not like to give up those pagan traditions and pagan festivals.

The Roman Catholic Church had already given in to Constantine the Great allowing the false teaching of the trinity be part of the Catholic Faith, so it was a further small step to adapt the Western Celtic and Saxon traditions to the Roman Faith. In 336 CE, during the time of this so called  first Christian Roman Emperor for the first time on December 25th “Christmas” was being celebrated.

A very early Christian tradition said that March 25th was the day when Mary was told she’d give birth to Jesus (called the Annunciation). And nine months later, of course, would be December 25th. But the Bible doesn’t mention the exact days of that annunciation, nor of the birth of Jesus, though from all the secular writings we do know when the cencus took place, when the falling star appeared and that it was in October that Mary and Joseph went to fulfil their duties. We can take it was in 4BCE on October the 17th that rabbi Jeshua from the tribe of King David was born. For those who would love to celebrate his birthday it is strange that they than not do this around the period Jesus was rally born.

An image from the necropolis under the Vatican...

An image from the necropolis under the Vatican in which Jesus = Mithras (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is true that in many cultures we can find a festival of lights, also the Jews have such a festival of lights. Germans and Scandinavians had their yule festival. Celtic legends connected the solstice with Balder, the Scandinavian sun god or Norse god of light, son of the chief god Odin and his wife Frigg, who was struck down by a mistletoe arrow from the blind god Hödur (or Höd). At the pagan festival of Saturnalia, Romans feasted and gave gifts to the poor. Drinking was closely connected with these pagan feasts.

The Babylonian sun-god and god of agriculture and flocks, Tammuz, lover of Ishtar, born on the winter solstice according to legend was also celebrated on December the 25th and by the Roman Catholic Church his symbol was taken as the symbol for Jesus (the sign of Tammuz or the cross), placing Jesus as the bringer of light and god of light.

The leaders of the instituted organisation of clergy who accepted the trinity, agreed to adopted the saturnalia day of the ‘day of birth’ or ‘day of new life’ as a remembrance day of the new life Jesus has given to all mankind. For them it was easier to get more converts by keeping the folks from indulging in the old pagan festivals as part of the pagan culture, now transformed or redressed in a Roman Catholic dressing.

Branches that had thorns became to be the thorns Christ wore on the crucifix (sign of Tammuz) and the berries were stained red by his drops of blood. From the Norse and the Druids, the Mistletoe you may find growing here everywhere and at that time was considered special because of it found growing on the sacred oaks, was featured in several old myths and held to be sacred and associated with fertility, which led to kissing boughs.

Also today at the Christmas markets we can find the gangway where there is the kissing bough custom one holds that a woman who refuses the kiss shall have bad luck, and that those who kiss underneath it shall be having a blessed and fruitful year.

Not all the following years Christmas was part of Christian life. During Cromwell’s rule, Christmas was even banned. Charles II restored the holiday in England. However, the Parliament of Scotland officially abolished the observance of Christmas in 1640, to purge the church “of all superstitious observation of days”, and it was not restored as a public holiday in Scotland until 1958.

Julbocken, by John Bauer (1912)

From the 4th to the 19th century the tradition of the Northern people their celebration for their chief god and the father of Thor, (Thunor, or Thonar), Balder, and Tiw, Woden or Wotan became more and more also liked by the people from Holland and Belgium and the man with a long white beard who rode a horse through the heavens one evening each Autumn became their Sint Niklaas (Sinterklaas) or Sint Nicholas  (saint Nicholas) and in the Anglo Saxon countries Father Christmas or Santa Claus/Sancta Claus.

1881 illustration by Thomas Nast who, along with Clement Clarke Moore’s poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, helped to create the modern image of Santa Claus

From the 20th century onward that Father Christmas started gaining more popularity and the presents became more and more the focus of the people for that season were the darkness seemed to have darkened their Christian sight. Lots of Christians enjoyed decorating the ‘Christmas tree‘ and telling their children the Saint from Spain had brought presents for all those who had behaved well the previous year. Later in the month it was the Santa who once more brought presents in the house.

History illustrates the awesome outworking of initial events from when the Divine Creator has declared

Zephaniah 1:17-18 The Scriptures 1998+  (17)  “And I shall bring distress on men, and they shall walk like blind men – because they have sinned against יהוה  {Jehovah}, and their blood shall be poured out like dust and their flesh like dung.”  (18)  Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of יהוה  {Jehovah}. And by the fire of His jealousy all the earth shall be consumed, for He makes a sudden end of all those who dwell in the earth.

This comes from the Christadelphian bible reading for December 15 when we started reading this short and somewhat overlooked prophecy of Zephaniah. He would have been one of the prophets Peter referred to, as we read the final chapter of his second letter of the same day-reading, he told them they should remember

2 Peter 3:2 The Scriptures 1998+  (2)  the words previously spoken by the set-apart prophets, and of the command of the Master and Saviour, spoken by your emissaries,

Today we may find lots of people who have stress about the coming days when they have to present nice meals and many presents and have to fulfil many family visits and social obligations. Their eyes are closed for the real issue in life. Not a Santa shall bring salvation and he from the North has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ. When we look at the many Christmas markets we even do not see much what reminds us of the Saviour who was sent by God to this earth.

Ages ago holy prophets told about the eyes of people which would become blinded. Today we

“should remember their predictions

Folk tale depiction of Father Christmas riding...

Folk tale depiction of Father Christmas riding on a goat. Perhaps an evolved version of the Swedish Tomte. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We also should remember that they also warned for the time that scoffers were going to come and would lead people following their own sinful desires. About the promised one who was born, lived for a very short time here on earth, died, was resurrected from the dead and showed that he was not a spirit, but the one brought back alive by his heavenly Father, that master teacher is not remembered much these days and many do not think about his return or even do not believe in it.

Yes many laugh at us and say,

“Where is the promise of his coming?”

Many children have to promise their parents that they will be good next year. Then they also will get some present. But not many children learn about that man who died for our sins. Not many take time in this ‘Time of the year’ to read the Bible and to meditate on what God and his son Jesus had to say.

Today lots of people are concentrating on their self and do see all those refugees coming in our regions as a possible threat to what they can enjoy. Many are afraid they shall have to share with those poor people who travelled thousands of miles to find their luck in our Western world where money seems to flow like moulted butter.

Many people do not see what is really going on and how those set apart men of God had warned for certain situations we can see today. Also Jesus told about the signs of those days we have today. That time Jesus spoke about, may be much closer than many think. Many are blinded by the money this world is offering. Lots of people think everything can be said with presents and with the value of money. The real value for life they often do not see. Capitalism has put sand in their eyes.

The ways of godless thinking and living will be seen for all the foolishness they are; and we must never forget, there are only 2 ways: the broad way and the narrow way. Those on the narrow way are

2 Peter 3:12-15 The Scriptures 1998+  (12)  looking for and hastening the coming of the day of Elohim, through which the heavens shall be destroyed, being set on fire, and the elements melt with intense heat!  (13)  But according to His promise we wait for a renewed heavens and a renewed earth in which righteousness dwells.  (14)  So then, beloved ones, looking forward to this, do your utmost to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,  (15)  and reckon the patience of our Master as deliverance, as also our beloved brother Sha’ul wrote to you, according to the wisdom given to him,

“waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace” (verses 13,14).

Included in what they (we) are waiting for, is what Job perceived and that we read today. He declared,

I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!” (19:25-27).

He believed in resurrection!

That final comment is most thought provoking. Our hearts will be in danger of fainting within us for multiple reasons, when God “bring(s) distress” – the experience will be awesome for believers! But how imminent then will be the time when they will “see God” through seeing his Son, marvelling in anticipation of the ultimate time when

God himself will be with them as their God … for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3,4).

Let us anticipate in faith the things that “our eyes shall behold” to carry us through the coming time of “distress”.

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Additional reading

  1. Holidays, holy days and traditions
  2. Christmas customs – Are They Christian?
  3. Christmas, Saturnalia and the birth of Jesus
  4. Irminsul, dies natalis solis invicti, birthday of light, Christmas and Saturnalia
  5. Focus on outward appearances
  6. Jesus begotten Son of God #1 Christmas and Christians
  7. Christmas in Ancient Rome (AKA Saturnalia)
  8. Christmas trees
  9. Actions to be a reflection of openness of heart
  10. With child and righteousness greater than the law
  11. Objects around the birth and death of Jesus
  12. Politics and power first priority #3 Elevation of Mary and the Holy Spirit
  13. The imaginational war against Christmas
  14. Autumn traditions for 2014 – 1: Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet
  15. Manna from Sint Nicholas
  16. Traditionalists Vow to Fight Charges of Racism in Netherlands
  17. Ignorance of Today’s Youth (and Adults)
  18. Sancta Claus is not God
  19. Brits believe Santa present at Jesus’ birth, new poll reveals
  20. Wishing lanterns and Christmas

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Further reading

  1. Winter Solstice and Yule
  2. Yule is upon us!
  3. Dickens’ Christmas Story as an Intertexteme in Leskov’s Yule Short Story
  4. Winter Solstice 2015: Shortest Day Of The Year Celebrated As Pagan Yule
  5. Commercialmas
  6. Yule 2015 #15 performing magic
  7. Yule 2015#16
  8. A radiant vision of splendour
  9. Yule prep
  10. Yule Wreath and Garland
  11. 13 Trolls
  12. War Against Christmas?
  13. Holiday King of the Hill
  14. SGC Admin: From our inbox to you from: Patti Wigington: Paganism/Wicca Expert
  15. Yule – Wicca subject of the week
  16. Happy Yule 2015
  17. How to bring some real Christmas spirits into your Yule-tide
  18. 10 Ways to Celebrate Yule
  19. Santa Claus, Krampus,The Wild Hunt and Me.
  20. Vigil
  21. Use Yule Bells For Positive Energy
  22. Irish Christmas
  23. Christmas, the Weridest Holiday of the Year; Part one
  24. Holly Tree
  25. Holly, Plant of Saturn and Mars
  26. Symbol of Yule: Holly Mistletoe and Bayberry Candles
  27. Memories of Yuletide
  28. A Little history on the holly tree
  29. Let It Be Done Unto Me
  30. Annunciation
  31. Annunciation: a reflection for Advent
  32. This Annunciation
  33. The Annunciation, according to Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich
  34. Tuesday 15th December
  35. Wednesday Writings – Annunciation
  36. Mary’s Heart
  37. Angels & Advent: In His Shadow – a sermon podcast
  38. And the virgin’s name was Mary
  39. Angels of Advent: Encountering the Annunciation
  40. Somersaults /Wednesday, December 9, 2015
  41. Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin
  42. Mary and a “Yes” to God’s Request
  43. Joseph’s Pregnant Advent
  44. The Overshadowing of Mary –Pentecost
  45. Christmas
  46. Saturnalia
  47. From Sukkot to Saturnalia: The Attack on Christmas in Sixteenth-Century..
  48. Togas, Laurels, Chariots and Some Roast Lambs’ Testicles
  49. Countdown to Christmas 17: Saturnalia
  50. Saturnalia Is a Fleadh by Another Name. Just Don’t Tell Jerry Buttimer
  51. By Jove! It’s Christmas: Did the First Christian Roman Emperor Appropriate..
  52. War On Christmas Memes: Saturnalia
  53. War On Christmas Memes: The Yule Tree
  54. Christmas: it’s all about money, not messiahs.
  55. Geranium Lake Properties, Saturn and Sol
  56. Advent Calendar Day 15: Christmas: The Perfect Excuse For A Fight? by Lucy Brazier
  57. Pig Washing 1, “Christmas”
  58. Christmas is Pagan!
  59. Christmas — Who gives a rip HOW we came up with the date we use?!?
  60. Christmas is Tammuz’s Birthday?

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